Last updated: 05 July 2017
It’s time to get ready for the return of the Bolt, brush up on your knowledge of fencing and archery, download the Chariots of Fire soundtrack and deck out your front room with your national flag. That’s right, the summer of sport in Brazil is almost upon us.
While most will be looking forward to seeing whether the sprinter, Usain Bolt, can add to his ever-growing stash of trophies (seriously, where does he find the room for them?) and if British long-distance champion, Mo Farah, can retain his 10,000m title, there’s a secret star predicted to make an impact. If you’ve read our Wimbledon, Euro 2016 and NFL Draft blogs, chances are you’ll know who we’re talking about. The name? IoT, of course.
In fact, the IoT is probably the only athlete to be faster than Usain Bolt. Using high-tech sensors and powerful big data systems, it’s able to provide information on sporting performance and athlete health almost instantaneously. So, how is it going to make an impact and what are the benefits? While the modern Games are the successor to Ancient Olympia, the IoT is surely the successor to Zeus.
Making Taekwondo fairer
Taekwondo has been a popular event since 2000, and is always thrilling to watch, especially if you’re the Russian Federation President, Vladimir Putin, who’s a grandmaster in the sport. The Korean martial art has a scoring system which awards three points for a head kick and a single point for a body shot, so you can imagine the pressure on referees to detect a successful hit. Fortunately, the IoT is helping them, enabling the introduction of an electronic scoring system. The fighters wear sensors on their headgear and protective pads, which immediately inform officials when the head or body has been struck. As a consequence, the IoT is ensuring taekwondo is fair, eliminating the possibility of a fighter missing out on a coveted medal because of human error.
Making athletics smarter
Smart clothing is set to change the way athletes prepare for enormous sporting events. An example is Hexoskin’s biometric shirt, which can monitor a sprinter’s heart and breathing rate, as well as capture movement data. It links up with a mobile app, where athletes can receive insights into their performance. In addition, there are now smart shoes, such as Kinematix’s Tune, equipping athletes with sensors in the soles of their trainers. These analyse the sprinter’s running form, feeding data into an online portal, which is accessible via a mobile app. Using these tools, we’re expecting to see world records broken in Brazil!
What are the qualities you’d associate with a champion cyclist? You’d probably say fitness, psychological strength, speed and power. However, there’s another skill that’s becoming increasingly crucial – the ability to analyse data. Sound strange? Here’s why it’s so important.
The rise of the IoT means that sensors can be used to provide cycling professionals and performance directors with real-time analytics and insights. For instance, the Team USA cycling team is working with IBM Watson to deliver Project 2016, a cloud-based system for enhancing team pursuit speeds. A mobile-enabled IoT solution uses power meters, heart rate monitors and muscle oxygen sensors on the bikes and athlete to help cyclists fulfil their potential. The information is presented to coaches in a simplified format, allowing them to communicate results clearly to the rest of the team.
In addition, cyclists have been preparing for Brazil with Solos’ smart cycling glasses. The concept sounds like it belongs in a James Bond film, but it’s become a reality thanks to the IoT. The goggles connect to sensors on the bike, providing the cyclist with real-time performance data in their field of vision.
Clearly, cycling teams which fail to embrace IoT innovation could fall behind. It’s another example of how the technology is becoming a dominant player in arenas and velodromes.
Brain stimulation wearables….really?!
Brain stimulation wearables? What on earth are we talking about? We’re not joking – technology is in development which claims to make athletes psychologically stronger by stimulating the motor cortex during training, enhancing ‘neuromuscular performance’. Halo has been trialing the device with selected athletes ahead of the Games and, while we don’t know much about it yet, we think it offers a glimpse into the future of sport.
Other tech – payments innovation
The IoT isn’t the only technology enhancing the athlete experience. In Brazil, it’s not going to be a case of One Ring to Rule Them All, but lots of rings bringing power to everyone. Visa and Gemalto are equipping athletes in Rio de Janeiro with NFC enabled payment rings, allowing them to make purchases with the tap of finger against a reader! The rings are connected to smartphone apps, eliminating the need to carry around lots of payment cards and risk losing them. Let’s face it, that’s the last thing an athlete needs before the biggest event of their life!
As you can see, the IoT is set to be a sporting star. It’s changing the way sports and coaches work and making officiating more accurate. What do you make of the impact of IoT technology on the summer of sport? Let us know by tweeting to @Gemalto or by posting a comment below.
Enjoy the sport!